ARTS EXTRA: Combating hunger with competition

It’s “Iron Chef,” D.C. style. Next Wednesday, the D.C. Central Kitchen (DCCK) hosts its third annual Capital Food Fight to raise funds for the work of the Kitchen. Tickets grant access to food samples, an auction and the battle royale.

Similar to the popular Food Network Japanese import, local chefs take a secret ingredient and have only a brief period of time to whip up tantalizing treats. However, unlike the hour that the two competitors have on “Iron Chef,” DC’s top gastronomiques have only 10 minutes to battle it out with nine other chefs. Local radio host Kojo Nnamdi and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain will judge the resulting dishes and crown one chef champion of the D.C. culinary scene.

Reigning champion Ris Lacoste has won the past two years but faces tough competition from the likes of Bob Kinkead (Kinkead’s, Colvin Run Tavern), Vikram Garg (IndeBlue), and Tim Elliott (Mei N Yu).

Though the event will be held at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center on the other side of the White House, there is a direct link to the students of GW.
A group on campus, the Multicultural Food and Festival Aficionados Upper Division Living and Learning Community (a.k.a. MFFA LLC), will comprise the bulk of the volunteers who will run this year’s Food Fight.

The group of 40 living in New Hall hosts weekly floor dinners and seeks out foodie opportunities in the District. The students have eaten together for the past two years, their community funded through the GW Housing Program, and according to an e-mail from Executive Chair David Solomon, has been “very successful.” Most recently 12 members attended a gallery opening and reception at the Venezuelan Embassy.

Founded in 1988 and launched on January 20, 1989 using leftovers from the first George Bush’s inaugural celebrations, the D.C. Central Kitchen has continued to recover unused food to distribute to the hungry ever since. Yet to describe the group as a “soup kitchen” is not only insulting but inaccurate.

As Brain McNair of the group explains, DCCK “combats hunger and creates opportunities.” Beyond feeding the hungry, the DCCK uses the kitchen as a tool to create community by drawing together both volunteers and the people who they serve. As the group writes on their website, “since its inception, DC Central Kitchen has used the kitchen as a central location to recover unused food, prepare and deliver meals to partner social service agencies, train and employ homeless men and women for the food service industry, and intellectually engage volunteers.”

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